Traditional rugs, like any other work of art, for they are works of art, can be viewed as a much loved soft furnishing which given its character, design and colour to the home and has its own identity. Similarly traditional rugs have perhaps an added value and are viewed as possibly an item of investment. Traditional rugs often made by families who are nomadic in their life style. The wool originates from their own sheep and is dyed by a member of the family using plant dyes collected during their travels. Some rugs take years to make and often mother and daughter make these art forms besides their domestic chores sitting either side of the rug hence why often the rug bends, the looser tied knot making the longer side. The colours and designs of the rugs reflect the tribal art forms.
Some rugs are made in factories and the designs and colours tend to be more uniform as opposed to those made out on the mountain or plain and the wool washed in a mountain stream and the dyes made from the local vegetation by the stream as well. Like any other art form, the making of these rugs primarily gives the creators satisfaction and often the financial rewards are of a secondary consideration. It is a slow and painstaking work yet worthwhile to create such an object of beauty. A Persian rug measuring 2 metres by 3 metres or 6 feet x 9 feet may take a home worker a year and up to 18 months to complete. it is calculated that of the world’s population only 6 in 1 million are weavers and of these, 1 in 3 will be Persian and Turkish the remainder being Indian, Chinese, Romanian and Russian.
The prices of traditional rugs continue to rise as the weavers seek more remunerative employment. Unfortunately unlike paintings or sculptures, carpets are never viewed on par yet they remain worthy art forms and just as complex and interesting an art form as a painting.
A painting cannot be viewed in terms of paint on a canvas neither can a rug or carpet be valued by the wool, silk and cotton that are put into its creation and the West largely leaves the weaver unrecognized. However, in recent times as the rugs and carpets have increased in value and the numbers of collectors have increased, a more appreciative Western buyer is able to recognise this traditional art form. A cheap rug is like a cheap dress or suit, time will be the judge of quality after a few years of use. Some Persian rugs with landscape or scenic designs are signed and are worthy to be hung on a permanent wall as any work of art deserves.
Setting aside the rugs in the collectors’ category not everyone has perhaps the finance to afford collectors’ prices. However, as in any modern society, copies can be purchased which only experts can recognise. These rugs and carpets are affordable, the same as the High Street store selling designer styled clothing. The shopper has the freedom to choose what they like, and at a price they can afford, the same as a print of a Picasso. Machine made, traditional designed rugs will not obviously wear as well as a handmade one. To recognise a machine made rug, turn it upside down and if the pattern is indistinct or invisible the rug was no doubt made by a machine. There is no harm in that as long as you are paying the price of a machine made rug and not a hand crafted one. For a handmade rug the hand-knotted creation are made by tying each strand around the warp so the colours are as clear on the back as they are on the front. In a machine made rug the strands are not knotted but looped and secured with an adhesive which obviously obscures the design work. Copies of Persian rugs are made in Pakistan, China, Romania and Bulgaria. Most original handmade rugs are accompanied by some form of certification. The term antique rug is used for rugs or carpets over 100 years old; “very old” probably means 70-90 years old, “old” is over 55 years and “semi old” between 35 years and 55 years. A new rug is anything up to 20 years old. Just because a rug may look dirty and shabby that is no indication of age. “Remember an old rug is often worn, but not all worn rugs are old” and old rugs may not be more valuable than a new one. Traditional rugs we have heard are washed with tea or bleach solution to reduce the colour or laid in the streets of bazaars to allow the traffic of animals, carts and people to travel over them to tread in dirt and reduce the pile. The knots of modern rugs on the back will not be flattened and polished but will usually be unaffected. With inexpensive traditional rugs, age and the question of authenticity become irrelevant so enjoy the rug for itself.